615.419.3604 hilary@activeyoga.com

Rest the Meat: Experience in Yoga

  I love cooking shows even when they cook meat.  Cooks have a description called resting the meat which stays with me because I’m horrified by the image of eating blood. You let the cooked meat sit before cutting into it so the juices rest back to the flesh. I don’t mind being horrified as much as I enjoy the delights of seasoning, menus and presentation.   I recalled the latest cooking demo as I lead a group of students into a rest between poses one day. I marked a vigorous floor sequence and lay on the floor with them to visualize their rest. I pictured one meat image and then another. I recalled the description falling off the bone to describe tender meat and then the phrase “rest the meat”.   I asked forgiveness for sharing those images but getting real, we are flesh and bone and so…..It was not hard to feel the blood settle in resting flesh that had been squeezed and stretched. With time the bones were liberated toward the floor.   Shocking images wake us up. It’s a bit excessive to relate a subtle inquiry to the body of a butchered and cooked animal but it worked. Hope this works for...

In Yoga Two is One Alone

  Unintentionally there is a disservice in yoga classes. After a student does a pose on one side, that side becomes a standard for the second. I tell my students that expecting one limb to behave like the one on the other side is like telling your kid he should have gotten an A because his brother got one.   Students are taught as if there is a correct way to do a pose but the way offered is that of a factory made doll. We start with the picture of absolute symmetry because it is neutral but in fact that is only a baseline as we are all built differently. Even the relationship of bone lengths differ person to person. And then most of us have experienced injuries that changed relationships again.   Students notice that one side performs or behaves differently than the other. The awareness is less a problem than the work ethic of expecting the other side to be equivalent. When you are on the second arm or leg or the second side of a pose, treat it as if it is not the second but the first. You are still using the same guidelines, going in the same direction. But once differences have been established, by clearing the confusion of comparison your first second side will have a chance to shine.   You are cultivating awareness with discernment which is both sophisticated and subtle.  It takes patience. This is something that comes with experience. Keep going. The journey is often tedious and even boring at times but the rewards come and they are great....

Yoga, Hammer and Nail and Threads of Thought

  I’m covering an Iyengar class. As a longtime student of the Iyengar system I am aware of a couple of pitfalls so I take the opportunity as the visiting teacher to offer thoughts and a technique useful in my personal practice.   Tension is not a negative word. Tension creates integrity. Tension is a negative when it is extraneous.   Think of your practice as a carpenter hammering a nail into wood. Once nailed, there is no reason to keep hammering. Step back and appreciate what you’ve created. Consider it.   Give up 20 percent of the effort and notice you are still in the pose. Perhaps you can keep letting go of effort to 50 percent and hold the pose. Think of the form resembling a suspension bridge.   Physical yoga is the application of desire mixed with effort, and then the reflection of that effort’s effect finished with the facility to know when to surrender to what you can and cannot comfortably do. And know that your experience today will likely change the next time. Patience in yoga is not just a virtue but essential....

Are Your Relationships Working? The Body of One is the Body of All.

  Hatha yoga, is the physical experience of relationship.  It is the relationship of bone to bone, bone to breath, breath to muscle, muscle to muscle, fiber to fiber and cell to cell. Stretching doesn’t make muscles longer as much as it makes relationships between fibers and cells become efficient. Stretching wakes us up.   When posture is pleasurable it’s likely we’ve found the right path. It is an indirect path. The map is provided by a teacher but not all vehicles are suited to drive the same way on the same path. We learn by trial and error. Some of it is obvious and some more subtle. The more refined the mind, the more refined the yoga practice which results in greater awareness of the unseen. One thing is for sure. If there is pain, sorrow or anger, the relationship is off. And that bad relationship takes its toll on parts that had no part in creating the problem.   When there is discomfort in a relationship it’s helpful to look at the forces individually. Work unilaterally in the pose as you would look at your own part in an argument. Maybe look and feel how one group as one side is different than the other.  Then take measures to make the best “deal” for each side.   Perhaps you guessed that I’ve got the contentious governing body on my mind. The incoming is trying to make the best deal for one group. Healthcare and tax reform are big topics. The filter of my yoga mind sees we the people and the people of the world as one...

My Back Door to Yoga Therapist

Yoga was a gift from a friend.  Later I sought meditation to get me through college final exams. I was a rebellious teen becoming sensitized though I didn’t mean to.   Running from a life of certainty I became staff at a Macrobiotic restaurant. The staff was given classes in Macrobiotics by the head chef. You are what you eat. You are who you eat. You are how you eat. Doors of the mind opened. This was the seventies.   Base is everything. As the Macros say, “little yin attracts big yin” which meant that a taste of something is enough to suck you into something bigger. It was not a good thing with yin food (talking sugar etc. here) but it was a great thing with movement.   I danced.  Ballet, Modern and Haitian lead me to the worn wooden floors of dozens of somatic studios. This is how I move, how I look, how I feel. Aerobics, Pilates, Barre, Power Yoga, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, Breema; the avenues were endless if you were inclined to find them even at the edge of the fitness revolution.   From the weird to the woo- woo, to the sublime, to the scientific I dove in to things that seemed to jump out to find me. In California I embraced color healing, sound healing and acupuncture. I tried colonics, dream therapy, re-birthing and then there was Dora Lee the chiropractor who told me to make a list of all my unresolved relationships. She pressed my spine; asked me who number 10 was as the room filled with the smell of cigarette smoke;...

Excellent Article on Plantar Fasciitis and Yoga for Your Barefoot Feet from Me

Below and also here is a link to an excellent article on plantar fasciitis.  I’ve given you yoga postures to help with strength and flexibility to assist you. For strength: Tadasana or Mountain Pose Standing with feet slightly apart lift all ten toes to feel the arches rise. Press into the base of the toes. Look at them. Are the little toes coming up as well? Put toes down and maintain the lift of the arches. Lift the arches of the inner knees, the inner groins and lift the inner arches of the hip bones. Pick up the skin of the legs and feet. Pick up  the abdomen. To increase awareness, raise your arms, firm the muscle to the bone and pick up the skin of the chest. Soften so there is action without strain. Feel and hold the memory with steady breaths.   For flexibility: Vjrasana or Hero Pose and Modifications Kneel on blanket with knees together. Press calves back and sit on heels. Re-position by lifting hips and holding heels together to sit back again with sit bones behind heels which will press the heels forward. If the ankles can stretch more, put a rolled blanket under toes and sit again. If the ankles are tender and need support, put a rolled blanket under the ankles and sit again. If the knees are stiff have another rolled blanket behind the knees or a folded blanket under the buttocks between the feet. Binding the ankles with a strap is the final stretch for the inner ankles but not necessary. You just need manageable sensation. To stretch the outer...